by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings started an eight game road trip in Memphis on Friday night with a 107-91 loss to the Grizzlies. The Kings (16-26) have now lost four games in a row and have fallen to 11th place in the Western Conference but are just 1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets who are in eighth place – the final playoff qualifying position.
As the Kings struggle to figure out how to win games without the injured Rudy Gay (Achilles tendon) for the rest of the season, the team must also deal with the fact they are still in playoff contention. At this point, it is almost appears that no team really wants to take control of eighth place in the West.
The Kings started the game strong in Memphis – something that this team has not been doing recently. They outscored the Grizzlies 23-15 in the first behind seven points from DeMarcus Cousins and Ty Lawson’s six points. The Kings also played strong defense holding Memphis to just 30.4-percent shooting including going 0-for-7 from beyond the 3-point line.
The situation changed dramatically in the second quarter as the Grizzlies came alive behind the play of Vince Carter who scored 11 points off the bench. Memphis shot 12-for-22 (54.5-percent) from the floor and hit 3-of-7 from long range. The Grizzlies outscored the Kings 34-19 and took a 49-42 lead with them to the locker room at halftime.
The Grizzlies came out in the third quarter ready play just like they had in the second period. In the third, it was Marc Gasol who led the Memphis attack with 15 points. Zach Randolph put up seven points in less than three minutes on the floor. The Grizzlies outscored Sacramento 34-22 as DeMarcus Cousins was limited to just three points in the period. At the end of three quarters, Memphis held a 84-63 lead.
After his team’s lackluster third quarter performance, Dave Joerger sat his starters for the fourth quarter and inserted Willie Cauley-Stein and Ben McLemore. Later in the fourth, rookies Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere saw playing time. The Kings did outscore the Grizzlies 27-24 in the final period.
Joerger’s postgame analysis
- It was a tough game
- We didn’t play really well
- We didn’t make shots
- We threw the ball away
- Memphis has a really good team -players
Stars of the game
- Marc Gasol scored a game-high 28 points on Friday night shooting 9-for-19 from the floor. He shot 3-for-6 from 3-point range and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Gasol recorded eight rebounds and handed out four assists.
- Zach Randolph was a star of the bench which is really no surprise. He posted a double-double scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 23-minutes of playing time
- It will come as no surprise that DeMarcus Cousins was the Kings star of the game. Sacramento with Rudy Gay lost for the remainder of the season is even more dependent on Cousins than they were three days ago. He led the Kings in scoring with 19 points and made it a double-double by recording 10 rebounds. The oddity was Cousins scored 16 points in the first half and just three point in the third quarter. He did not play in the fourth quarter by coach’s decision. Cousins also picked up his 14th technical foul in the second quarter of the game. That becomes very serious because technical foul number 16 results in a one-game suspension with additional suspensions for every two technical fouls after that 16th tech.
- Garrett Temple made the start at forward and made an effort to fill the gap left by the loss of Rudy Gay. Temple put up 14 points and hauled in three rebounds while distributing three assists.
- Ty Lawson worked hard on the second unit again on Friday night. He scored 13 points and dished out five assists. Lawson has really become a dependable “go to ” player off the bench for the Kings.
- Mike Conley showed again why he is such a key to the Grizzlies success working at the point by scoring 16 points and distributing eight assists. He also recorded eight rebound.
- Tony Allen recorded a double-double at guard for Memphis against the Kings. He scored 13 and pulled down 10 rebounds. Five of those rebounds were offensive boards which kept possessions alive.
Key stat of the game
The Grizzlies out-rebounded the Kings 58-35. More importantly, 15 of the Memphis rebounds were offensive rebounds which extended possession and created second chance scoring opportunities. The Grizzlies posted 18 second-chance points to just four for Sacramento.
Up next on the schedule
- The Kings moved on to Chicago were they will play the Bulls in the second game of a back-to-back set on the road. They will also face former teammate Rajon Rondo.
- The Grizzlies are also back in action on Saturday as they host the high powered Houston Rockets in the FedEx Center “Grind House”.